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Patrick Moran,
Hydrologist,
934 Broadway,
Suite 300
Tacoma, WA 98402

(pwmoran@usgs.gov)
(253) 552-1646
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Stillaguamish Emerging Contaminants

Project Summaries

  
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9722-DYZ00 - Emerging contaminants in wastewater effluents in the Stillaguamish Watershed

Problem - The Stillaguamish Tribe is concerned with chronic effects on Chinook salmon from low-level environmental exposure to emerging contaminants and with mixtures of these compounds that may have synergistic toxic effects. Specifically, the Tribe is concerned with the potential for intersex/sex reversal in Chinook as a result of wastewater effluent (Fernandez and others, 2007). In 2006 and 2007, the Tribe partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to collect blood samples from adult male Chinook at the Harvey Creek Hatchery to determine whether the female egg producing protein, vitellogenin (Vtg), was present. Results indicated that Vtg was present in all male fish, but at levels that may not lead to feminization in adult fish (Stillaguamish Tribe, 2007, unpublished data).

Problem - There is concern of possible chronic effects on fish and wildlife from low-level environmental exposure to emerging contaminants and with mixtures of these compounds that may have synergistic toxic effects. There is now substantial evidence that some of these compounds impact the endocrine systems of fish and wildlife, influencing hormonal and reproductive functions.

Objectives - Conduct a preliminary, small-scale sampling effort that will meet the following objectives: 1) identify the type and magnitude of emerging contaminants present in a sample of the springtime wastewater effluent from the City of Arlington Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) discharging to surface waters of the Stillaguamish watershed; and 2) provide a baseline sample for future comparison to effluent from the City of Arlington’s expanded and upgraded Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), when improvements to the current WWTP are complete in 2010. These samples are for reconnaissance purposes and are not intended for statistical evaluation or comparison to the results of other studies.

Relevance and Benefits - This study will address the first long-term goal of the USGS 2007-2017 Strategic Science Directions, to monitor and report on the state of the Nation’s terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal ecosystems, and to study the causes and consequences of ecological change. The study serves a local need to develop a better understanding of the relation between sources, processes, and concentrations of environmental contamination from pharmaceutically and hormonally active compounds. This is a logical next step toward conducting a basin-wide assessment of the source and transport of contaminants, which is one of the major goals of the USGS Washington Water Science Center.

Approach - In spring 2009, a single 24-hour composite sample of the final effluent will be collected and processed from the City of Arlington Wastewater Treatment Plant. The operators for the City of Arlington WWTP will collect 2 samples from work shifts during 6-hour intervals over a 24-hour period. Samples from both sites will be collected in bottles provided by the USGS, following the procedures and cautions described by Lewis and Zaugg (2003). Samples will be composited on site by USGS personnel and submitted to the USGS National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) in Lakewood, CO for analysis of wastewater compounds as described by Zaugg and others (2006) and pharmaceuticals as described by Furlong and others (2008) using standard chain-of-custody documentation. In addition, wastewater effluent will be pumped and filtered to collect sufficient sample for analysis of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PDBEs) by NWQL custom method 8058 (Duane Wydoski, USGS NWQL, written commun., 2008). The sampling will be repeated in 2011 at the Arlington and Stanwood plants following completion of new technological improvements to the plant.

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